Thoughts on Pesticide use

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011

I wanted to write a little tonight about pesticide usage and management practices that many producers use in their farming operations.  It seems that public perception is that farmers pour on the pesticides to try to “kill everything and anything”, when that is quite far from the truth for the majority of farmers.  Although the amount of glyphosate used has increased over the last 15 years, it is a general use pesticide and is reasonably safe, as it has no residual activity or persistence in the soil.  If you were to consider use trends of restricted use pesticides over the last 15 years, and based on my experience in my own operation, I am reasonably sure usage of these products has declined.

Farmers employ several management pracitces when using pesticides, including IPM (integrated pest management) where the farmer uses a scouting program to determine the population of a pest in a field and wether or not a pesticide application is warranted.  Another practice that is becoming more important is using different pesticides with different modes of action in a growing season to help prevent the spread of resistant weeds, and using the proper use rates to ensure control of growing weeds depending on rate of growth and size.  Many farmers also use additives to prevent drift and to help the pesticide stick to the target to prevent runoff or volatilization.  Farmers are also required to keep detailed records of their pesticide usage including weather conditions product used, rate used, size of crop and target pest, and so on.

While there are farmers out there who don’t always follow proper practices, the vast majority are doing everything possible to do what is right for all concerned, because, after all the producer is the one who is closest to point of application, and any mistakes that are made affect him first.

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